By Dr. Paula Fellingham
The year is 1945…you are in Auschwitz, Germany imprisoned in a concentration camp whose horror defies description. Your entire family has been killed. You’re a Jewish psychiatrist named Viktor Frankl.
The guards have stripped you, beaten you, starved you and deprived you of sleep. And yet, you live on, determined to somehow create meaning out of this horror.
As you are experiencing this hell on earth you come to this incredible understanding.
The guards can torture you, but you have the power to respond to them however you CHOOSE. They can beat you, but they can’t take away your will to live. They can strip you, but you can clothe yourself with mental power beyond their reach. They can starve you, but you can feast on your dreams of the future.
You see, Victor Frankl imagined himself at a university pulpit, teaching the future generation about the ultimate freedom – the freedom to choose how you respond to life. He was passionate about living to tell his story so that never again would a human being be allowed to cause such suffering as he had endured.
Those prison guards couldn’t make Victor Frankl angry or discouraged. Think how our lives would change if we truly understood and applied this concept! We would no longer blame others. We wouldn’t say, “You make me angry!” because we’d understand that no one MAKES us angry; we can choose to be in control of our emotions. We wouldn’t blame people, our circumstances, the weather, etc. for anything. We wouldn’t say, “I can’t get up that early…I’m just not a morning person” because we’re any kind of a person we choose to be!
This is an incredibly important principle. This means that you and you alone own your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. Is this difficult? Yes, because it’s easier when you can point to someone else while you’re saying, “It’s not my fault…he made me do it!” It’s my parent’s/husband’s/boss’s fault!” But once you understand this powerful principle – that you can respond to others, and to your circumstances, however you choose, you’ll begin to make powerful, positive changes in your life.